The crisis posed by employment informality in the Middle East and North Africa must be tackled head on in the region’s pursuit of sustainable and inclusive development. As this column explains, in the drive to formalise occupations and create an adequate number of decent jobs, there is a need for vocational upskilling and life-long learning, support for formal enterprises and promotion of a ‘social and solidarity economy’.
The concentration of the Arab region’s wealth in the hands of just a small percentage of its residents should be a wake-up call for a renewed regional and national policy dialogue on inclusive growth strategies – and for immediate policy action. This column argues for revisiting governance frameworks and macroeconomic policies to enact pro-poor fiscal policies that are supported by modest annual contributions from the wealthiest decile. This would reduce wealth concentration and support dwindling fiscal space for social protection and development expenditure in many Arab countries.
With negative and zero incomes being widely reported in household surveys, it is essential to understanding who is reporting them in order to generate a consistent ordering among households, and measure poverty and inequality accurately. This column summaries evidence from an investigation of the prevalence and consequences of non-positive incomes using 57 harmonised surveys covering 12 Mediterranean countries over the period 1995-2016.
Egyptian firms have operated subject to low and stagnating productivity. This column outlines the recent trends in business conditions and the drivers of the low productivity and slow growth rate – and makes some recommendations for policy.
High rates of poverty coupled with high concentration of wealth in Arab countries indicate the need for stronger civic solidarity and the shared responsibility of the public, the private sector and the state for lifting the downtrodden out of poverty. This column makes the case for taxing top wealth to close the poverty gap and promote civic unity.
The emigration and return migration of working-age men in the Middle East and North Africa have significant effects on national economies. This column summarises new evidence on the contribution of moving to another country for work and later returning home to the lifetime earnings and intergenerational socio-economic mobility of workers in Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia.
Measures of income or consumption alone provide an inadequate representation of living standards and economic inequality across households. This column reports evidence on the distribution of productive assets in three MENA countries plus Ethiopia – and the impact of that wealth on households’ present and future earnings.